Director Paul Haggis appears in Italian court amid assault investigation

Film director Paul Haggis appeared in court in southern Italy amid a police investigation into a woman’s allegations that he had sex with her without her consent over the course of two days.

Haggis, who is best known for writing the screenplays for the films ‘Crash’, ‘Million Dollar Baby’ James along with two James Bond films, the 69-year-old made no comment as he arrived with Italian lawyer Michele Laforgia in court in Brindisi, a port city in Puglia, the region that forms the ‘heel’ of southeastern Italy.

There was no sign that his family members were in Italy at the time of his arrest.

Prosecutors announced Sunday that police had detained the Canadian director, screenwriter and producer for investigation into alleged aggravated sexual violence and aggravated personal injury.

Haggis, who co-wrote, directed and produced Crash, which won the 2006 Oscars for best picture and best screenplay, is photographed with his lawyers outside the courtroom in Italy.

Haggis, who co-wrote, directed and produced Crash, which won the Oscars for best picture and best screenplay in 2006, is photographed with his lawyers outside the courtroom in Italy Haggis is photographed examining metal detectors at the courthouse in Brindisi, southern Italy. Italy

Haggis, who co-wrote, directed and produced Crash, which won the Oscars for best picture and best screenplay in 2006, is photographed with his lawyers outside the courtroom in Italy Haggis is photographed examining metal detectors at the courthouse in Brindisi, southern Italy. Italy

File photo: Haggis is pictured October 16, 2015 arriving at the Rome Film Festival

File photo: Haggis is pictured October 16, 2015 arriving at the Rome Film Festival

State TV and other Italian media said the alleged victim is a young British woman who met Haggis before he came to the resort town of Ostuni to attend an arts festival.

Haggis co-wrote, directed and produced Crash, which won the 2006 Oscars for best picture and best screenplay.

He also wrote the screenplay for Million Dollar Baby, another Oscar winner.

Haggis has had legal troubles in recent years stemming from allegations of sexual misconduct by four women in the United States.

In Italy, a judge, after hearing arguments from prosecutors and defense lawyers, is due to decide on Wednesday whether Haggis should be released from prison pending a possible further investigation.

The judge may also decide to keep you in prison or under house arrest.

Haggis’ US attorney Priya Chaudhry told the Associated Press on Sunday that while she could not discuss the evidence under Italian law, “I am confident that all allegations against Haggis will be dismissed.”

She added: ‘He is totally innocent and is willing to cooperate fully with the authorities so that the truth is revealed quickly.’

An outside view of the Brindisi courthouse, with the judge set to decide whether Haggis can be released pending a possible further investigation

An outside view of the Brindisi courthouse, with the judge set to decide whether Haggis can be released pending a possible further investigation

Paul Haggis' defense attorney Michele Laforgia grimaces as she leaves after a hearing against Canadian film director Paul Haggis at the courthouse in Brindisi, southern Italy.

Paul Haggis’ defense attorney Michele Laforgia grimaces as she leaves after a hearing against Canadian film director Paul Haggis at the courthouse in Brindisi, southern Italy.

The young woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was found confused by airline officials at Brindisi airport in southern Italy on Sunday morning.

She told police that Haggis – who is in Italy for a film festival due to start on Tuesday – kept her for 48 hours at an inn and abused her before throwing her at the airport.

Brindisi prosecutors announced Sunday that police had detained the Canadian director, screenwriter and producer for investigation into alleged aggravated sexual violence and aggravated personal injury.

Haggis wrote the screenplays for Daniel Craig's blockbusters Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, and won an Oscar for the screenplay for the 2004 hit Crash.

Haggis wrote the screenplays for Daniel Craig’s blockbusters Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, and won an Oscar for the screenplay for the 2004 hit Crash.

The 65-year-old filmmaker won an Oscar for his films Million Dollar Baby and Crash

The 65-year-old filmmaker won an Oscar for his films Million Dollar Baby and Crash

The 65-year-old filmmaker won an Oscar for his films Million Dollar Baby and Crash

Police called to the airport by officials tracked down Haggis at his hotel in Ostuni and he was questioned before being released and instructed not to leave the country before a preliminary appearance before an investigating judge in nearby Brindisi.

They said the woman arrived in Italy on June 15 and was found Sunday morning at the airport.

Local prosecutors Antonio Negro and Livia Orlando confirmed they are investigating an allegation of rape, but said they will not be able to speak before the planned hearing today.

An arts festival that Haggis was scheduled to attend began on Tuesday in the city of Ostuni.

An arts festival that Haggis was scheduled to attend began on Tuesday in the city of Ostuni.

Haleigh Breest, 32, filed a lawsuit in December 2017 alleging that Haggis raped her in her New York apartment after a movie premiered in 2013.

Haleigh Breest, 32, filed a lawsuit in December 2017 alleging that Haggis raped her in her New York apartment after a movie premiered in 2013.

Haggis was supposed to attend the Allora Film Festival and give a series of talks on filmmaking, while his daughter Alissa was also among the attendees, along with Jeremy Irons and Matt Dillon.

In 2018, the Oscar-winning director preemptively sued publicist Haleigh Breest, 32, who filed a lawsuit in December 2017, alleging he raped her in her apartment after a movie premiered in 2013.

But the judge granted a motion to dismiss Haggis’ case.

According to the lawsuit, Breest accepted his offer of a ride home. Instead, she said, he took her to her apartment in SoHo and asked her out for a drink.

Three other women came forward in January with their own sexual misconduct allegations against Haggis, including another publicist who says he forced her to perform oral sex and then raped her.

The accusers said the attacks took place between 1996 and 2015.

Haggis is a former Scientologist who defected from the Church in 2009 after remaining a member for 35 years, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

After the sexual misconduct allegations surfaced, two other prominent defectors shared an open letter claiming to believe the Church of Scientology was behind the allegations.

He was Senior Executive of the Church of Scientology and spokesperson for the organization at the time.

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